P.O. Box 429
Mt. Lake, MN 56159
When friends of Jerry Logue started planning a trip to Vietnam, he jumped at the chance to join his fellow Vietnam veterans on this journey to revisit a place from their past.
“I had always wanted to go back to Vietnam,” Logue said. “So when fellow veterans Jim Olson and Don Skoglund were talking about going, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Included in our group was Richard Theisen who wanted to go in honor of his brother who was killed in Vietnam. The four of us signed up with the Boston Company, Overseas AdventureTravel.
What is nice about this company is they only do small group tours. Our group included 12 people and a guide.” Serving in Vietnam Logue was teaching high school English in Mt. Lake when he received his U.S. Army draft notice in October of 1968.
“Superintendent Henry Drewes sent a letter asking for a delayed induction,” Logue said. “It was the start of a new school year and he felt it would be difficult to find someone to fill in at that point.” Logue was inducted into the Army in June of 1969 and did his basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. “During basic training I decided to interview for the position of chaplain’s assistant,” Logue said. “Out of 100 guys, only three would be selected to go onto chaplain school. I was chosen along with Jim Olson from Jackson and Gene Hugoson from East Chain.
We all were teachers from southwest Minnesota. Logue’s training as a chaplain’s assistant was at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, N.Y. On Thanksgiving Day, 1969 he was sent overseas. “I was stationed at DaNang, Vietnam, for my 13-month tour,” Logue said. “I served with the 212th Combat Aviation Battalion as the chaplain’s assistant. That meant I was the secretary, janitor, driver and mechanic.
Throughout my time there, I served under three chaplains. “Our Army post was part of the Marble Mountain Base which was the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regimental Headquarters. “As the chaplain’s assistant, I often flew with him when he went out to conduct services and counsel service men.
We would travel in a Huey helicopter to seven different units. “The chaplain also held Sunday evening services at the China Beach Hospital. “We often visited two orphanages that were nearby. We took food and whatever else we could. We were invited there for Christmas Eve services. “It was during that service that a young orphan boy ‘adopted’ me. From then on whenever I visited the orphanage, he sought me out. I remember my parents sending him a package with new clothes and a toy John Deere tractor. “A normal tour was for 12 months but I extended my stay by two months. That way when I returned to the U.S., I wouldn’t be retrained and sent out again. Instead I would be discharged. As it turned out, I was able to return home after only one additional month. “I arrived back in the States on Dec. 22, 1970, at Fort Lewis where I was discharged from the Army as an E-5, Specialist 5th Class.
I returned to my teaching position in Mt. Lake in January of 1971.” Returning to Vietnam Going back to a country you haven’t seen in 32 years, in peace times rather than during combat, brings a new perspective. “Our tour group left Minneapolis on Feb. 9, 2003, and flew to Bangkok, Thailand,” Logue said. “This was a pre-trip which included a few days in Cambodia and Thailand. While there we visited the Angkor Wat Hindu temple in the Cambodian jungle. “From Bangkok we flew to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. It is in the northeast part of Vietnam and located on the right bank of the Red River. In Hanoi, we visited the ‘Hanoi Hilton,’ Hoa Lo Prison, where John McCain was imprisoned during the war. This was a ‘low-light’ of the trip. “But Hanoi held other wonderful sightseeing events like the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The performance showcases the daily life of Vietnamese farmers, communal living and historic legends. The underwater puppeteers use underwater bamboo poles to manipulate the puppets in the water. “We also visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square.
He was the chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1951–69. “Another highlight was Halong Bay in northeast Vietnam. It has more than 1,000 karsts or limestone rock formations with caves, sinkholes, fissures and underground streams. “Outside of Saigon in a jungle-like area we visited a spot that showed an access to the honeycomb tunnel system of the Vietcong army.
“I especially wanted to visit DaNang, where I had served for 13 months. I wanted to see something that was familiar, go somewhere I had been back then. But the country has been sanitized or wiped of most of the U.S. buildings and structures from the war era. You could see parts of concrete bunkers but not much else. “While in DaNang we searched for the church that Pastor Le Van Tu was so determined to build back in 1969–70. Whenever we saw him riding his moped onto our base we knew he was looking for anything we might be able to give him for his church. “South of DaNang we visited the Marble Mountains which consist of five marble and limestone hills known for stone sculpture making.
“We traveled around the countryside in a van and were able to see rice paddies, visit local villages and meet the people. The country is gorgeous and definitely a tour magnet for the world. Nature has reclaimed the land. The fruits and vegetables are bountiful and the cuisine is outstanding. You definitely taste the French influence in their cooking. “The people are so warm and welcoming. You have to remember that many of those who fought in the Vietnam War are old or deceased now. The younger generation doesn’t have that war experience with Americans. “When we returned on March 2, I knew this had been an adventure of a lifetime for me. I realize I am among the lucky ones who came back after serving in Vietnam and am very thankful.” Family background Logue was born in Estherville, Iowa, on Nov. 12, 1943, to the late Rex and Doris Logue. He graduated from Fairmont High School in 1961 and St. Olaf College, Northfield, in 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree in English and speech.
Logue married Pam Watts in 1973. They have two children, Andrew (Pam) and Anne (Jason) Siebert and eight grandchildren.
He taught English in Mt. Lake from 1965 until he retired in 2001. He directed more than 50 plays and musicals plus six community theater productions.
He was the assistant cross-country coach for 16 years. Pam taught kindergarten for six years in the Fairmont School District. She taught second grade for many years in the Mt. Lake District and then Title One before retiring in 2005.
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